On 15 February, during the working visit of the German Federal president to Latvia, Mrs Andra Levite and Ms Elke Büdenbender met with representatives of the NGO Riga TechGirls. Its representatives explained what organisation does in terms of educating and encouraging Latvian women to join the IT sector. During the meeting, Mrs Levite and Ms Büdenbender both emphasised that Latvia and Germany face similar digital gap and women’s information technology (IT) empowerment challenges.
Andra Levite, who is also the Patroness of Riga TechGirls, introduced the organisation and its representatives to Elke Büdenbender. ‘Riga TechGirls and your team are very inspiring and active. I am humbled to be your patroness. You are always on the move. As soon as one programme closes, you immediately launch the next one. We need more people like you,’ Andra Levite said, praising the Riga TechGirls.
Riga TechGirls shared their experience with various initiatives and training programmes, introducing several graduates of their modules who have moved from other professions to IT to Andra Levite and Elke Büdenbender. ‘Believing in yourself is important for women as much as the support of people around them. And that is where the knowledge and emotional support from Riga TechGirls comes in,’ Ms Büdenbender stressed.
Ieva Ilves, Adviser to the President of Latvia for Information and Digital Policy, joined the first ladies during the meeting with Riga TechGirls at the Riga Castle to present President Levits’ initiative ‘Computer for every child’ to Ms Elke Büdenbender. The aim of this initiative is to promote digital skills of children and teachers, as well as reducing digital inequality. When the schools were closed in Germany during the pandemic, said Elke Büdenbender, German kids also suffered problems with access to education – not all of them had the necessary technologies to keep learning. That is why, according to her, President Levits’ initiative is so crucial.
During the meeting, Ms Büdenbender was also given a demonstration of VReach virtual reality goggles for autistic children, a product developed by the start-up founded by Riga TechGirls board member Marina Petrakova.